Maybe Redwood Valley Head Coach Matt Lundeen should become a medium.
For weeks he had stated that this group of kids was going to do something special and Tuesday night in St. Peter his prediction came true as seventh-seeded Redwood Valley stunned the number two seeded Saints 17-14 to advance to Saturday's Section 3AAA semifinals.
Following an ugly loss in Worthington to end the regular season, not many people gave the Cardinals (3-6) a chance on the road in St. Peter but Lundeen knew his kids would be ready to go.
“We talked all week about how we still hadn’t put our best game together and I thought we went into the game with a lot of confidence,” he said. “Defensively we played one heckuva a game and made the plays that we needed to make. I’m really happy for this group of kids.”
The Cardinals will travel to Montgomery on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m. kick-off) to face a good Tri-City United team that rolled to a 31-13 victory over Worthington.
Blue Earth Area (8-0) will face Fairmont (5-4) in the other semifinal.
It was the Cardinal defense that came up with the first key play late in the first quarter as Austin Kretsch picked off Josh Peymann at the Redwood Valley 7-yard line to thwart a St. Peter drive with the game still scoreless.
The Cardinal offense finally got going in the second quarter as Alec Koster moved the ball through the air completing three passes to RJ Juell for 29 yards and finally connecting with the athletic senior on a 25-yard fade pattern for a Cardinal touchdown.
Aiden Dirlam would add the extra point and the Cards would lead 7-0 with just over six minutes to play in the half.
Minutes later Kretsch came up with another big play, recovering a muffed punt on the St. Peter 15-yard line that would set up a 19-yard field goal by Dirlam to put the Cards up 10-0 with 1:06 still left in the half.
The Saints (7-2) would respond with a key five play, 60-yard drive that culminated in a 29-yard touchdown strike from Peymann to Tom Steidler that cut the lead to 10-6 at the half.
St. Peter had another scoring opportunity midway through the 3rd quarter but would stall out at the Cardinal 13-yard line as a Peymann fumble was scooped up by Kretsch.
The Cards were forced to punt three plays later and and St. Peter would take over their next offensive possession on the Cardinal 48-yard line.
It was then that junior Mitch Fischer came up with one of the biggest play’s of the game, intercepting Peymann and racing 55-yards for a Cardinal touchdown.
Page 2 of 3 - Dirlam’s extra point would increase the Cardinal lead to 17-6 with 3:30 to go in the third quarter.
Koster would pick off Peymann on the next Saints drive but the Cardinal offense would be forced to punt as the game moved into the fourth quarter.
Needing a score, the Saints managed to put together a 10-play drive and moved it to the Cardinal 3-yard line where Peymann appeared to score to cut the lead to single digits.
Unfortunately for the Saints, an inadvertent whistle negated the play and the Cardinal defense would take advantage of a subsequent offensive pass interference call to keep the Saints out of the end zone.
The Cardinal offense continued to manage the clock, and following a Juell punt, Koster came up with his second INT of the game to keep the momentum on the side of the Cards with just under six minutes to play in regulation.
Following another Cardinal punt, the Saints finally found the end zone as Jordan Phillips scored on a 29-yard run to cut the lead to 17-14 with 4:24 to go.
The Saints would have two more possessions inside Cardinal territory including the ball on the Cardinal 17-yard line with 24 seconds to play but the Cardinal defense came up with the huge stops to secure the victory.
The Cardinal defense forced five turnovers and held the Saints to 0-for-5 in the redzone to give the Cards the opportunity to steal a win despite recording just nine first downs offensively.
Koster finished 12-of-28 passing for 115 yards, one TD and one INT to go along with 18 carries for 24 yards.
Kretsch had eight carries for 87 yards and Juell added eight receptions for 83 yards and a score.
Thane Widmer had four catches for 29 yards and Kretsch had two for three yards.
Linebacker Braydin Kvistero had a big game recording 13 tackles (10 solo) and a tackle-for-loss.
Juell added 10 tackles (eight solo) and a tackle-for-loss, Kretsch had 10 tackles (eight solo), a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an INT and Fabian Ortega had nine tackles (eight solo) and two tackles-for-loss.
Logan Zaske finished with eight tackles and three tackles-for-loss and Fischer added five solo tackles and the key INT for a score.
Section 3AAA Quarterfinals
Redwood Valley 17
St. Peter 14
RV - Juell 25-yard pass from Koster (Dirlam kick)
RV - Dirlam 19-yard FG
SP - Steidler 29-yard pass from Peymann (kick failed)
RV - Fischer 55-yard INT return (Dirlam kick)
Page 3 of 3 - Fourth Quarter
SP - Phillips 29-yard run (2-point conversion successful)